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What Is Shagreen?

What Is Shagreen?

Shagreen decorative items have been around since the time of the dynasties in China, and were popular in France hundreds of years ago.  We are seeing a surge in its popularity once again, but do you know what shagreen actually is?

Shagreen refers to leather made from the skin of sharks or stingrays.  The hide typically has a spotted texture, making it easy to spot.  In the photo inset below, you can get a good sense of its spotted pattern.  Part of the reason for the surge in the popularity of shagreen in home decor may be due to the Seaside design trend; you will find items such as coral, seashells and fishing floats in many retail stores today.  Shagreen was often used to cover decorative objects, and it is often used in the same way today.

Bellacor Shagreen Box and Frame

In addition, shagreen was traditionally colored with a green vegetable dye, which helped give the product its name.

Today, you can still find items made from real shagreen (at a very high price), but most items are made from faux shagreen, including this one found on the Bellacor website:

shagreen lamp

And this from West Elm:

shagreen box

These pillows from Maresca Textiles are featured in the September issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and feature a shagreen pattern printed on linen.  As you can see, the pattern mimics a real shagreen piece, which features an undulating dotted pattern.  They are available several colors, as are most shagreen items today – not just the traditional green.

shagreen pillow

And, several companies make wallcovering with a shagreen pattern, such as this one from F. Schumacher found in this bold Chinese red:

shagreen wallpaper

Shagreen has been around for thousands of years, and it is popular once again.  Check it out, and add a bit of shagreen to your home decor!

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